As the first of four new Cowboy Junkies "Nomad" recordings to be released over the next 18 months, Renmin Park (June 15, Latent Recordings) finds the newly independent alt-country band hitting their 25th anniversary in rejuvenated stride. Inspired by guitarist/songwriter Michael Timmons' extended stay in China, the new project, he says, is "a fictional love story about two people whose two worlds will forever keep them apart." It's also a reflection of his journey inside "a bewilderingly complex society" that incorporates ambient field recordings of local sounds and voices into the Junkies' familiar atmospheric, often somber folk/rock style.
As always, it is singer Margot Timmon's melancholy vocals that are again at the cool center of most Cowboy Junkies songs, a languid, detached approach that still connects with the listener just as it did on the band's breakout version of Lou Reed's "Sweet Jane" on their 1988 debut album The Trinity Sessions -- a seminal album that they re-recorded live in 2007. New Renmin Park songs such as the moody piano-backed blues ballad "I Cannot Sit Sadly By Your Side" and stripped intimacy of the engaging title track are significant reminders of why The Cowboy Junkies continue to matter. Recommended. More on the upcoming "Nomad Series" albums here.
The Cowboy Junkies - "Renmin Park" (from the album Renmin Park)
The Cowboy Junkies - "I Cannot Sit Sadly By Your Side" (from the album Renmin Park)
Stream Renmin Park in its entirity at the Cowboy Junkies website.